Blogging My Way through Techstars Boston Summer 2015

The Techstars Boston Summer 2015 class starts next Thursday, June 4, working towards Demo Day on September 1. As most of you know, I decided to join Techstars as a Director last December (for the personal reasons why, click here). Someone joked that I’m “working my way down the stack”, having started as a Limited Partner in the Boston program in 2011, then becoming a mentor, and now staff, where among other things I wash the dishes. (Which I recommend as highly therapeutic, and one of the few ways you can achieve order in startup life.) All that’s left to be considered “full stack” is to join one of the companies as an employee, which I’m tempted to do everytime I fall in love with a few of the companies every year.

The challenge of blogging is keeping the discipline of writing regularly…which I typically do in spurts. But I hereby solemnly and publicly swear to blog faithfully at least 3-4x a week as we go through the program. But there’s no shortage of material to cover. Off the top of my head, I expect to go through:

  1. Techstars’ structure: the difference between city programs like Boston and the various verticals “Powered By Techstars” with corporate programs, such as the robotics vertical with Qualcomm, the fintech vertical with Barclays, the “mobility” program including Ford and Honda, etc.
  2. How each program is the same but still different reflecting that program’s mentors, staff, and especially the types of companies selected
  3. The basic structure of the program. In a nutshell, Month 1: getting connected and figuring things out; Month 2: “doing more faster” and accelerating the business; Month 3: getting funding and setting up for the long marathon to come that is startup life
  4. Recruiting and selecting the companies for the class (several posts here)
  5. Recruiting “hackstars” and associates–super talented people who want to be part of Techstars but aren’t part of a company. They come with some super-talent (coding, marketing, design, etc.), and many or most of them end up joining one of the companies in the current class
  6. Recruiting and selecting the mentors (ditto, with some surprises)
  7. Matching mentors and alums with the teams
  8. Editing the standard curriculum and creating new programs that best serve the companies
  9. Opening day
  10. Our orientation bootcamp–hopefully injuries are limited to mosquito bites and some deflated egos
  11. Alumni dinner
  12. Mentor Dinner — my favorite event and the essence of speed dating
  13. “Mentor madness” and 1:1s
  14. The different kinds of mentoring–from the classic (adopt a team, meet with them weekly), to the special (run a workshop or give a talk) to the rare but most rewarding kind (“mentor in residence”).
  15. A digest of the various brilliant blogs on mentoring by Brad Feld, David Cohen, and others
  16. How my co-director Eveline Buchatskiy and I divvy up the class for “sherpa-ing”
  17. Notes from the various presentations and workshops given (probably guest-written by one of the associates)
  18. Filmed interviews of the teams (check out some from previous classes like MavrckStreamroot, and WooSports), staff (here’s one last year with Techstars Boston Managing Director Semyon Dukach,) and mentors.
  19. A comparison, now with some context, of how we differ from other well-known accelerators, like YC, 500 Startups and AngelPad (I’m an investor in both), and MassChallenge (which one of my companies went through)
  20. …and so on all the way through and past Demo Day
Eveline Buchatskiy and Semyon Dukach of Techstars
Eveline Buchatskiy and Semyon Dukach of Techstars

Opinions, obviously, will be my own and won’t represent the opinion of Techstars, but hopefully those two viewpoints will be in synch and not in conflict.

Certain things you won’t get in the following months:

  • inside scoops on the “Founder Talks” given other than name, rank and serial number. Those are off-the-record, and as a result, brutally honest and valuable;
  • much editing–given the day job and the amount I hope to crank out, you’ll know why this minimum viable blog is entitled “Insufficiently Edited”;
  • deep dark secrets–I’m not here to do a reality TV show or podcast, although I DO recommend the podcast “Startup” by Alex Blumberg, which featured Alex’s own company’s birth pains in Season 1, and closeups on another company in an accelerator in Season 2.)

I really, deeply in my bones believe in Techstars mission and way, and it’s my hope that journaling the way through this program will help others get excited about it as well, starting a virtuous cycle attracting more and better mentors, associates, companies, and investors, all of whom play parts in making a positive dent in the universe.

But this journal is also a way to open-source a little bit about the program to those who applied and didn’t get in. There were some incredible companies that didn’t make the cut. (I invested in 2 of them which I would have accepted if I’d been sole decision-maker.) And if you were one of the many companies that applied but didn’t get in, maybe this helps you get in next round–one indomitable company we accepted made it on its 4th try. At the very least I hope that this proves valuable to a few of you startups.

The teams aren’t waiting for the program, but are jumping with both feet, as this tweet shows:

10:15pm. Boston doesn’t start for a week. Hungry and cofounders already at warp speed.

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All of which reminds me: I’ve got to get back to work, and so do you. Do more faster!

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